Harpers First Ride Caps Off 2020 With Native Dancer Win

MCA Racing Stable’s Harpers First Ride put the finishing touches on an outstanding 2020 season by dismissing a bid from fellow multiple stakes winner Cordmaker at the top of the stretch and rolling home a 3 ¼-length winner in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Dancer at Laurel Park in Maryland.

The 53rd running of the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer, first held at old Bowie Race Course in 1966, was among three stakes for 3-year-olds and up on the undercard of a Christmastide Day program of eight stakes worth $850,000 in purses led by the $150,000 Allaire du Pont (Grade 3).

In a pair of six-furlong springs earlier on the card, Whershetoldmetogo captured the $100,000 Dave’s Friend for males and Dontletsweetfoolya won her fifth straight race in the $100,000 Willa On the Move for fillies and mares.

Favored at odds of 1-5 over his six rivals, Harpers First Ride ($2.40) registered his seventh win from 11 starts this year and fourth stakes win, none bigger than the historic Pimlico Special (G3) Oct. 2 at Pimlico Race Course. The winning time was 1:48.56 over a fast main track.

Jockey Angel Cruz, riding for fall meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez, positioned Harpers First Ride behind pacesetting 45-1 long shot Saratoga Jack through a quarter-mile in 24.61 seconds, with Cordmaker and Hall Pass battling side by side behind the top two. Harpers First Ride was in front after a half in 48.39 seconds and went six furlongs in 1:11.53 when Cordmaker – third in the 2019 and 2020 Pimlico Special – came calling. They straightened for home together but Cordmaker was unable to sustain his drive and got passed by Forewarned for second.

“Claudio told me to get a good position and just sit behind the speed. The speed’s on the outside so [I] just [tried to] get him to relax and go on from there,” Cruz said. “At the top of the stretch I had so much horse, when I asked Harper he responded very well. When Cordmaker came by me I just sat patient and waited a little bit and when I asked him he responded for me. He’s just a game horse. He fights to the end.”

Harpers First Ride won four of his last five starts to cap 2020, all of them in stakes – the Deputed Testamony, Pimlico Special, Richard W. Small and Native Dancer. He owns eight wins from 10 career tries at Laurel with one second and one third.

 Whereshetoldmetogo Proves Best in $100,000 Dave’s Friend
Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing Stable’s Whereshetoldmetogo came with a determined run through the stretch on the far outside and edged clear to a three-quarter-length triumph in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend.

It was the third consecutive win and second straight in a stakes for Whereshetoldmetogo ($6), racing for the fourth time since joining Laurel trainer Brittany Russell. The 5-year-old El Padrino gelding ran six furlongs in a sharp 1:08.55 over a fast main track.

Jockey Jevian Toledo, subbing for regular rider Sheldon Russell, was unhurried in the early going as 25-1 long shot Charge to Victory ran a quarter-mile in 22.13 seconds before being overtaken by 13-time career winner Penguin Power after a half in 44.63. Put in the clear leaving the backstretch, Whereshetoldmetogo began rolling on the outside around the turn and was set down for a drive once straightened for home.

“Brittany told me not to rush him out of there and just leave him alone wherever he’s comfortable,” Toledo said. “I just let him break and settle and when I felt he was trying to move I made my move, and he gave me everything he had. He’s a really nice horse.”

Taco Supream put in a strong effort to be second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Penguin Power. Laki, favored at 4-5, was another two lengths back in fourth with multiple stakes winner and first-time gelding Lebda finishing fifth.

Whereshetoldmetogo has crossed the wire first for three straight races, but was disqualified to second in the Sept. 26 New Castle Stakes at Delaware Park for interference before rebounding to edge Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) winner Laki by a nose in the Frank Y. Whiteley Nov. 28 at Laurel.

‘Sweet’ Streak Reaches Five in $100,000 Willa On the Move
Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya extended her win streak to five races, putting away main rival Malibu Mischief at the top of the stretch and sprinting clear to her second straight stakes victory in the $100,000 Willa On the Move.

Dontletsweetfoolya ($4.20), favored at even money in a field of eight, hit the wire 2 ¼ lengths in front in 1:09.47 for six furlongs over a fast main track. It was the closest a horse had come to beating the daughter of Grade 1 winner Stay Thirsty during her streak, where she had won by an average of 6 ½ lengths.

“Ever since we drew the one-hole we were kind of dreading it, especially with the weather coming in. The track guys did a fantastic job with working this rail all day,” winning trainer Lacey Gaudet said. “We’ve had rain and cold weather and this rail is beautiful so it did give us a little more confidence when we led her over here. [There was] a lot of speed; being on the inside we knew she was going to be pressed pretty hard and she just keeps coming back at them.”

Jevian Toledo, aboard for the entirety of the streak, hustled Dontletsweetfoolya from their rail post and was quickly joined by Malibu Mischief, a New York shipper that had won her six straight races. Malibu Mischief pressed Dontletsweetfoolya through fractions of 22.40, 44.81 and 56.75 seconds but was no match once they straightened for home, when Dontletsweetfoolya drew off to her fifth win in eight career starts.

“I didn’t tell Jevian anything. He rides this filly with confidence and he knows her very well,” Gaudet said. “He got to the paddock and I gave him a fist bump and said, ‘It’s up to you now.’ That’s kind of what we’ve done the last few races with her, and he gets her home.”

Hisbiscus Punch, off at 21-1, edged Malibu Mischief by a half-length for second with Club Car just a neck back in fourth.

The post Harpers First Ride Caps Off 2020 With Native Dancer Win appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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